Undergraduate Summer Research Awards

This page includes information for NSERC USRA, UBC Science Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) Awards, UBC Work Learn International Research Awards (WLIURA), and other summer research awards for undergraduate students.

The Undergraduate Student Research Awards (USRA) enable undergraduate students to spend the summer months working with an active research group. The normal duration of these awards is 16 consecutive weeks on a full-time basis. Students acquire valuable research experience while interacting with professors, postdoctoral fellows and other graduate and undergraduate students.

*In order to be eligible for these awards, students will be required to be residing in Canada for the duration of the award period (May to August).

Click here to find out how to make the most of your research experience!

Click here to see comments from undergraduate students who completed summer research projects at UBC in previous years.

*Summer 2022 COVID information: For 2022 Summer, the preference for USRAs is that they be held in person. Students must be residing in Canada and will need to provide a Canadian/local address. We will update this webpage as we have more information re: project restrictions, travel restrictions and safety guidelines.

 

            **The 2022 USRA Award Competition Cycle is now closed. Thank you everyone who participated! **

 

THE AWARDS

Providing Science students more opportunities to experience research is a goal of the Faculty of Science. We run three award competitions every year, over which the Dean’s Office has oversight. All three programs require a student to work at least 16 weeks to be paid a minimum rate to meet the BC's minimum wage standard. All wages are paid out of the project supervisor’s account and the award reimbursement of a portion of the cost is made to the researcher at the end of the student’s tenure. Applications for NSERC/SURE/WLIURA Summer 2022 are open as of December 1st, 2021; the application deadline is January 31st, 2022.

  1. Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) – this award is restricted to students who are Canadian citizens or Permanent Residents. They may be registered at UBC or another university. The subsidy is $6,000 or Summer 2022. The rest of the costs must come from an eligible NSERC grant. All information on eligibility and award conditions can be found on the following websites:NSERC USRA (for students) & NSERC USRA (for faculty & staff). Application deadline: January 31st, 2022.
  2. Science Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) Awards - open to UBC Vancouver BSc undergraduates of any nationality (including International students). The subsidy is $3,000 this year for Summer 2022. The rest of the costs can come from any grant source that authorizes such an expenditure. Application deadline: January 31st, 2022.
  3. Work Learn International Undergraduate Research (WLIURA) Awards - only for UBC Vancouver BSc students who are not Canadian citizens or Permanent Residents. The subsidy is $6,000 this year for Summer 2022. The rest of the costs can come from any grant source that authorizes such an expenditure. Students are appointed for a minimum of 16 weeks between early May and the end of August. We run this competition with NSERC/SURE to match students with faculty research opportunities. Application deadline: January 31st, 2022. *Please note that Work Learn job postings are managed centrally by UBC Centre for Student Involvement and Careers. Students who have not secured an award with a researcher will be able to apply for Work/Learn jobs as they will be posted at UBC CareersOnline in March, 2022 (exact dates: TBD).

 

WRITING YOUR APPLICATION LETTERS

Before submitting your formal USRA application (see Departmental Application Procedures below), we encourage you to write a brief letter to each of the faculty members with whom you might like to work, explaining which aspects of their research interest you and what you believe you have to offer their projects (this is excellent practice for future job searches!).

Click here to see a partial list of available Summer 2022 USRA projects hosted at UBC.

If people with whom you are especially interested in working with do not have any jobs posted, feel free to contact them (email is usually best) to find out if they have possible summer research projects.

Whether or not you secure a faculty member willing to supervise a summer work project, please submit your application with your three choices, and note in your application if you have a faculty member already interested in working with you. Securing a faculty member does not guarantee an award! The Awards Committee will assess all applications together, and if there is an award recommended to a student who has a supervisor already in place, we will then contact that supervisor to confirm.  

General information on the Physics and Astronomy research being carried out at UBC can be found on the departmental Website: http://www.phas.ubc.ca/research-areas.

 

PREPARING ALL APPLICATION DOCUMENTS

A. Domestic Students: Departmental Application Procedures - USRA

The following procedures only apply to UBC Students with Domestic status (Canadian Citizens or Permanent Residents) who are applying for an NSERC USRA awards at UBC. *Note: NSERC awards are available at all all major Canadian Universities, however deadlines may vary. Please check application deadline dates carefully for each institution.

Eligibility: To apply you should be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident completing the 2nd or higher year of an undergraduate Physics/Astronomy/Engineering Physics program. (*Note: 1st year students are eligible for NSERC if they have completed two terms of registered courses prior to the summer term where they would receive an award). You should have obtained a cumulative average of at least B+ over the previous years of university study.

1. Submit application online to NSERC by filling out NSERC Form 202 Part I online at NSERC website, including uploading copies of your official transcripts (and the legend on the back). To access the online application, please see here http://www.nserc-crsng.gc.ca/Students-Etudiants/UG-PC/USRA-BRPC_eng.asp.

2. Submit an e-copy of Form 202 Part I to UBC Physics and Astronomy Department by 11.59pm PST by January 31st, 2022. Besides this form, please send the following documents via email to ugcoord@phas.ubc.ca:

  • Official transcripts (we will accept a .pdf scanned copy of your official transcripts, or e-copy of your official transcripts. Official transcripts include the registrar's signature on the copy).
  • Curriculum vitae (CV)
  • Personal statement indicating your research interests and the names of three UBC faculty members you would be most interested in working with during the summer (please indicate clearly your first, second, and third choice). Consider your personal statement to be like a cover letter: you want to include your interests, experience and what you would bring to a research project, as well as some information about your future career goals.
  • At least one (two would be highly recommended) letter of reference from a faculty member of your home institution, or supervisor in a previous job (or volunteer activity). Please request this letter be sent directly to us via email from your referee(s).

 

B. International Students: Departmental Application Procedures - SURE/SBQMI Awards & Work Learn International Undergraduate Research Awards for International Students (WLIURA)

The following procedures only apply to UBC Students with International status (with a current study permit and work visa) who can only apply for one of the SURE Awards, SBQMI Awards or WLIURA International Undergraduate Research Awards. Domestic students (including Permanent Residents) are required to submit a formal USRA application as described above.

Eligibility - SURE: To apply you should be a UBC Vancouver BSc undergraduate of any nationality completing the 2nd or higher year of an undergraduate Physics/Astronomy program. You should have obtained a cumulative average of at least B+ over the previous years of university study.

Eligibility - International Undergraduate Research Awards - WLIURA: To apply you should be a UBC Vancouver BSc undergraduate on a study permit (ie. "international") and holding a current work visa, completing the 2nd or higher year of an undergraduate Physics/Astronomy program. You should have obtained a cumulative average of at least B+ over the previous years of university study.

1. Download a copy of NSERC Form 202 Part I here. Fill out the relevant information only and leave other fields that only apply to USRA applicants blank.

2. Submit a copy of your Form 202 Part I to UBC Physics and Astronomy Department via email at ugcoord@phas.ubc.ca by 11.59pm PST by January 31st, 2022. Besides this form, your online application should also include:

  • Official transcripts (we will accept a .pdf scanned copy of your official transcripts, or e-copy of your official transcripts. Official transcripts include the registrar's signature on the copy).
  • Curriculum vitae (CV)
  • Personal statement indicating your research interests and the names of three UBC faculty members you would be most interested in working with during the summer (please indicate clearly your first, second, and third choice). Consider your personal statement to be like a cover letter: you want to include your interests, experience and what you would bring to a research project, as well as some information about your future career goals.
  • At least one (two would be highly recommended) letter of reference from a faculty member of your home institution or supervisor in a previous job (or volunteer activity). Please request this letter be sent directly to us via email from your referee(s).

 

SUBMITTING YOUR APPLICATION

All applications can be sent via email (and if you wish to submit paper copies as well, you can deliver in-person) to:

PHAS Undergraduate Office c/o Kirsty Dickson at email: ugcoord@phas.ubc.ca
UBC, Department of Physics and Astronomy
Rm. 329A, 6224 Agricultural Road
Vancouver, B.C. Canada V6T 1Z1

Reference letters will be accepted via email at (ugcoord@phas.ubc.ca), directly emailed from referees, with the applicant's full name indicated in the email subject line (ie. USRA Reference Letter for John Smith).

Dates: The UBC Faculty of Science notifies us of our USRA/Dean of Science Undergraduate Research Award allotment by February. We will try to have all decisions made and positions offered as soon as possible after we know how many we have to offer. Because this part of the process must be completed expeditiously, please make sure we have your correct email address!

Selection criteria: Marks, recommendations and previous acknowledgements of distinction are important, of course; so are the aesthetics of presentation and content of the CV and personal statement. However, attention is also paid to the mutual enthusiasm of the student and the prospective supervisor for working together. Supervisors will be asked to "rank" students for this purpose. Because one of the primary benefits of USRA subsidies is to introduce new students to supervisors at a reduced financial risk, we rarely offer an award to the same student twice with the same supervisor in this Department. It is also rare to offer two USRA subsidies to the same supervisor at any given time.

USRA Recommended monthly salaries:

  • $2,550 per month upon completion of 4thor 5th year
  • $2,450 per month upon completion of 3rd year
  • $2,350 per month upon completion of 2nd year.

NSERC no longer covers travel expenses for the two-way trip to and from your home university.

*Note to UBC students: USRAs are competitive! We typically place 25% of applicants. To increase your chances you may wish to apply to more than one award (i.e., NSERC and WorkLearn positions, for example). Re: NSERC - as this award is offered across Canada, we strongly recommend students apply for this award at other universities, to give yourself more choices, and have the opportunity to conduct research outside of UBC/build up your contacts in other research communities.

 

Undergrad USRA Projects 2022

Click here to see a partial list of available Summer 2022 USRA projects hosted at UBC.

 

USEFUL LINKS

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